National Forest Foundation

Seven Places to #OptOutside on Your National Forests Thanks to REI’s Support

Adventures, NFF Grant Partners and Projects


In 2017, REI helped restore and maintain trails and recreation areas across our National Forests through a $1 million investment. As we look ahead to #OptOutside on Black Friday, we’re thankful for REI’s generous support at these special places.

Tongass National Forest, Alaska

With REI’s support, the Angoon Youth Corps helped ensure Admiralty Island National Monument stays healthy for future generations. During their eight-week program, they cleaned 16 miles of shoreline and 17 established campsites. The youth also surveyed locations for potential new campsites and mapped invasive species for treatment. The entire experience provided the Youth Corps with sea kayaking and camping skills.

Some of the students in the 2017 Angoon Youth Corps.

Tahoe National Forest, California

Near Truckee, California, the “Alder Creek Commemorative Overland Emigrant Trail” or “Emigrant Trail” is a 15 mile out-and-back route that winds along Alder Creek. This trail is popular with beginner and intermediate mountain bikers as well as trail runners. Thanks to REI’s support, we worked with local partners to install two critical bridges that span sensitive riparian areas. We also naturalized areas around the bridges and obliterated old road bed.

Photo by Chelsea Dier Photography.

Volunteers building new trail August, 2017.

San Isabel National Forest, Colorado

Throughout Colorado, the “Fourteeners” (14,000-foot or taller peaks), rise high into the sky and host some of the most popular hiking trails in the country. Unfortunately, many of these trails are being “loved to death.” As part of the NFF’s Find Your Fourteener campaign, REI supported the construction of a new East Ridge route on Mt. Elbert.

Crews working on the re-routed trail.

Tonto National Forest, Arizona

Just east of Superior, Arizona, the West Pinto Creek trail system is a popular access point to the Superstition Wilderness. While the trail receives heavy use, maintenance is limited. The ever-increasing traffic has resulted in erosion that degrades water quality and negatively impacts the trail. With REI’s support, crews improved nearly 29 miles of trail. The crews cleared vegetation and installed structures to reduce erosion and re-establish a sustainable and stable trail.

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Illinois

Just an hour outside of Chicago, Midewin National Tallgrass prairie provides refuge from the urban landscape. Once an ammunitions factory, Midewin is now the largest single track of open space in the great Chicago Area. Now in its sixth year, the Midewin Youth Corps provides employment and exposure to conservation careers for urban youth attending Chicago’s North Lawndale College Prep. This past summer, REI supported one of the crews, which gained valuable experience planting more than 7,000 plugs of native species while also maintaining two miles of trails.

White River National Forest, Colorado

One of the most accessible and popular “Fourteener” trails in Colorado, Quandary Peak receives thousands of hiker visits each year. Unfortunately, the heavy foot traffic is negatively impacting the trail and fragile alpine tundra habitat. Thanks to REI, the NFF worked with partners to install newly constructed steps and logs to control erosion.

Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, Georgia

Thanks to REI, youth from the United Keetoowah Band (UKB) of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma spent four weeks at their ancestral homeland in the Southeast. During their time on the Chattahoochee-Oconee, they participated in trail stewardship and stream habitat improvement projects. They also spent a week with Forest Service Archaeologist digging in plots, surveying and recording their findings. Not only did their experience provide exposure to conservation opportunities but also a chance to connect with their culture.

2017 support from REI will also support three additional projects on the Nantahala National Forest, Sawtooth National Forest and White Mountain National Forest that will be implemented in 2018.

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